Persicaria bistorta

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Persicaria bistorta
Bistorta officinalis.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Persicaria
Species: P. bistorta
Binomial name
Persicaria bistorta
(L.) Samp.

Persicaria bistorta (bistort, common bistort, or meadow bistort) is a species of flowering plant native to Europe and north and west Asia. The generic placement of this species is in flux. While treated here in Persicaria, it has also been placed in Polygonum or Bistorta.


The Latin name bistorta refers to the twisted appearance of the root.

Numerous other vernacular names have been recorded for the species in historical texts, though none is used to any extent. Many of the following refer to the plant's use in making puddings:

  • Adderwort
  • Dragonwort
  • Easter giant
  • Easter ledger
  • Easter ledges
  • Easter magiant
  • Easter man-giant      
  • Gentle dock
  • Great bistort
  • Osterick
  • Oysterloit
  • Passion dock
  • Patience dock[1]      
  • Patient dock
  • Pink pokers
  • Pudding grass
  • Pudding dock
  • Red legs
  • Snakeweed
  • Twice-writhen
  • Water ledges


Persicaria bistorta is an herbaceous perennial growing to 75 cm (30 in) tall by 90 cm (35 in) wide. The foliage is normally basal with a few smaller leaves produced near the lower end of the flowering stems. The leaves are oblong-ovate or triangular-ovate in shape and narrow at the base. The petioles are broadly winged. The plant blooms from late spring into autumn, producing tall stems ending in single terminal racemes that are club-like spikes, 5–7 cm (2–3 in) long, of rose-pink flowers.[2] The plant grows in moist soils and under dry conditions goes dormant, losing its foliage until adequate moisture exists again.


This species is grown as an ornamental garden plant, especially the form 'Superba' which has larger, more showy flowers, and has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3] It is suitable for use as a marginal or in bog gardens.

Other uses[edit]

In Northern England the plant was used to make a bitter pudding in Lent from a combination of the leaves, oatmeal, egg and other herbs. It is the principal ingredient of dock pudding or Easter-Ledge Pudding.[4] The root of Bistort can be used to produce an astringent that was used in medicine.



  1. ^ this name is also used for Rumex patientia
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Easter-Ledge or Dock Pudding - Historical Foods Archived 2011-06-24 at the Wayback Machine.